The Del McCoury Band gets it done in front a logo designed by yours truly.

This weekend marked the March edition of the semi-annual Southern Ohio Indoor Music Festival. I unfortunately did not have the pleasure of attending the weekend’s festivities but a good friend and musical cohort of mine did. He passed along a cool image of the Del McCoury Band gettgin it done on stage in front of a beautiful logo designed by yours truly.

Back when this festival first started, not too long ago, I had the honor of designing the identity and logo for acquaintance and festival founder Joe Mullins. The festival has really grown and now in aditiion to brochures t-shirts, hats tickets, etc the logo gets used as a gobo behind the musicians as they play! How cool is that?

A big thanks to John Banjovi for the pic! Wish I could have been there.

Freaky Fiddle Friday: Tony Rive – My Favorite Things, a you tube clip with good audio, who knew?

So today for Freaky Fiddle Friday I found a youtube video that actually has good audio… I didn’t even know there was such thing?

This is an amazing display of what a flat top guitar can do, it’s like a fiddle, a piano and a drum had a beautiful love child. Wyatt’s subtle textural rhythm and Tony’s screaming leads stand in stark contrast to each other, and yet they both are playing the same instrument, in fact the same model, how bout that.

The Rice brother’s here put on a display unlike any other in the pickin world. I could listen to this all day, let alone watch it! Praise BE!

It’s some hot pickin’ in the middle of January.

Freaky Fiddle Friday: Luke Abbott

Well I haven’t done a Freaky Fiddle Friday in a while. But I miss it, so here goes. Today I bring you the fantastic straight ahead and old timey pair of fiddle tunes by Luke Abbott. He plays two classics, Angeline the Baker and Apple Blossom. Do yourself a favor and also check out his album called, Take Me Home. It sounds like this young man has a very promising career as a solo musician. It’s difficult thing to make this material interesting as a solo artist, but he sure pulls it off convincingly. His guitar and banjo work is also quite solid and voice perfectly workable in a traditional sense. Good stuff.

Thank you Mr. [C.F.] Martin

I saw this on the Bluegrassblog.com this morning and thought I needed to share it here. Its a cool video posted by the C.F. Martin company of their factory in 1939, where they are building what appear to be D sized guitars. DROOOOL!

Based on the value of current Martin guitars from the era this recording was made, I’d say there is nothing shy of a small fortune shown in this video.

So here we are again confronted with the notions of things made in the USA. C.F.Martin being a great example of things still made in the USA.

I know this is toeing the thin line just this side of mawkishness, but I think the video above illustrates the ways things should be. There’s no rushing in the video. There’s not much automation. Things are standardized and jigged to make it easy to produce enough guitars to make money, but still enough hand work to make things enjoyable and not dull. The workers in this video are certainly craftsman of the highest order. However, we don’t see them pondering their existence in zen-like state of mind and or ruminating on the thickness of a plane shaving. They are just plain getting some good guitars built, some of the best ever built I should ad.

But to be honest, these guys are there to make money and put food on the table, while working with tools and their hands and being active. It doesn’t look easy, but it doesn’t look as taxing a days work in the mines either. Sure there are probably OSHA violations in there somewhere. But I think this an example of what we need to moving towards as a society and what I think much of the small makers are enjoying, be it the Bamboo rod builders, or custom luthiers business.

Jobs like these find a balance between craftsmanship and production. Between hand work and automation. Where things of quality are built to last a lifetime and that appreciate in value over time. Things that find their way into our grandchildren’s hands long after we are gone. That’s what we should producing more of and building on. Functional works of art.

I digress… see you on the blown out river or in the jam circle, maybe, if the water level drops a little bit more, and Uncle Gary brings the shine.

Fanning the Fire

It seems like the world has seen an explosion of fish vids from the young edgy beer swilling fly fishing documentarians, and we like that because they are fun to watch. But we haven’t seen that in the Bluegrass world. So this morning when I saw the video below via the The Bluegrass Blog, I just had to post it.

A while ago I felt like a “youngster” playing old guy’s music. Not so much any more, just another guy playing bluegrass. So its nice to see another crop of youngsters burning it down and keeping it real.

Check it out looks like a good one – Fanning the Fire.

Tony’s Personal Santa Cruz For Sale

The mysterious and über cool no-name headstock.

This just posted to the Mandolin Cafe Classifieds, an interesting place to post it, Tony Rice’s personal Santa Cruz Guitar is for sale.

I’m sure the forums and discussion groups like Flatpick-L will be abalze in speculation and rumor about why he is selling. It makes no difference to me.

My only complaint about all the Santa Cruzes I’ve played, and I’ve played more than most folks because I worked for a Santa Cruz dealer way back in the day, is that the fret ends are too sharp. He always left them, even the Brazillian Rosewood Tony Rice Pro models very pointy and when sliding your hand up and down the neck, they always felt too sharp, like they were slicing your fingers off. Bill Collings on the other hand, always had a very pleasing soft-rounded feel to them, when he was actually making guitars himself that is. Anyway details from the ad are quoted below.

We are proud to present Tony Rice’s personal guitar from Santa Cruz, which was in fact used on the Tone Poems record. This was a unique record in that many of the most archetypal instruments were consolidated for historic representation on one record with two of the finest pickers that have ever lived. Along with famous Loar mandolins and Pre-War Martins, Tony chose this particular instrument to represent the very best that modern guitar builders could produce to stand alongside the giants of older instruments.

In the early 70’s, Tony cemented a lifelong musical and personal friendship with mandolinist David Grisman. Dawg had begun to experiment with a deeper form of improvisation than standard Bluegrass fiddle tune chord changes offered. Tony decided to expand his knowledge of music and left the JD Crowe band to complete the now legendary David Grisman Quintet. Tony quickly befriended band mate, fiddle player Darol Anger. Darol was a friend of Richard Hoover and introduced the two. Richard asked if he could design Tony a custom instrument that would benefit his playing and tonal requirements, and there began a lifelong friendship in 1979.

The first design for the Tony Rice Signature model was produced that year, and continues to be offered in the Santa Cruz line today. Tony has constantly been a sounding board for his guitar’s design and a few of his instruments have been sold to the public in those years. This particular instrument was one of Tony’s favorites, nicknamed “Chocolate.” In a personal note that will accompany the guitar, he describes that this “guitar has been used by me more so than any other ‘Cruz’ both in public performance and recording projects.” He goes on to say “Its performance was particularly satisfying to me on the Bluegrass Album Band Volume 6. On that particular recording event, it was used in conjunction with my 1935 Martin D-28, and I defy the listener to distinguish one guitar from the other.” He also states that John Carlini used this Santa Cruz almost exclusively on his album River Suite for Two Guitars.

Tony’s instrument preferences came from years of playing his favorite guitar, Clarence White’s 1935 D-28. When Clarence’s father purchased the guitar from McCabe’s in California, this guitar was almost destroyed. Clarence’s father had the shop replace the fingerboard with a Gretsch fingerboard that had pre-cut fret slots, hence Tony’s preference for the in-between scale of 25 1/4 inches… not as long as a Martin long scale 25.9” and not as short as a Gibson 24 ¾” scale.

“Chocolate” is incredibly comfortable to play. Upon receiving any new Santa Cruz, Tony takes the guitar to his personal technician for a “special neck treatment.” This involves removing all the finish and then working in a special finish that gives the feel of a well worn vintage neck. This treatment is a characteristic of all his guitars. He discusses this on his Homespun DVD set entitled, “The Tony Rice Guitar Method.”

The German Spruce top has aged beautifully, while the neck is flat with very little relief, according to Tony’s low profile set-up requirements. This guitar even uses Tony’s choice of string, D’aquisto Steel strings! The figured Brazilian back and sides provides a growl to the instrument, along with clarity you won’t find on other guitars. Despite being used on numerous recordings, and public performances, it does not have as many dings and scratches that you might associate with a highly used instrument.

From Tony’s own words: “I am parting with this instrument as I have with others made by Dick Hoover because our combined research and development efforts have been very successful in the ongoing efforts to create a superior sounding Dreadnought acoustic guitar. This one being a ‘strong link in the chain.’” We humbly agree with Tony’s words and invite you to own a piece of musical history and heritage!

For more photos visit:
Artisan Guitars

Price: $55,000